Downhere has had much success with their 2001 self-titled debut. The album garnered them a 2002 Juno Award ("Best Gospel Album"), a 2002 Dove Nomination ("New Artist of the Year") and two 2002 Canadian Gospel Music Association Covenant Awards ("Rock Album of the Year" and "Rock Song of the Year" for "Larger Than Life"). Two years have passed since that release, and now downhere returns to the music scene with the much anticipated sophomore release entitled So Much For Substitutes. Does it measure up to the debut? Yes indeed, and possibly better.
The first thing you will notice about this album is that it is nothing like their first, musically speaking. It reveals to us a much more edgier rock sound then the mellow debut. The first track and single, called "What It's Like," is driven by a very catchy guitar part and vocals. The song talks about how we question the reason why we have to suffer pain in life sometimes, but the song reminds us that God Himself went through the same pain that we experience, but on a much higher scale. "Stone" is the next track on the album, filled with a very nice melody and clever lyrics. The calm but yet intense melody draws you into a song that proclaims "I'd rather be Your stone, than light up another's sky. I'd rather be Your stone, 'Cause all Your stones become Your diamonds."
"Breaking Me Down" has a very funky and bouncy beat to it which leads into the very addictive chorus that is pure pop/rock. The song talks about how the love of God is changing our every way and making us a better person in the end. "Iliad" is the first mellow song on the cd, it is a praise and worship song to God. "Starspin" is sure to be the next hit among youth groups, the song is fueled by a hard-hitting guitar riff and lyrics that are taken from Psalm 19. The song also gives way to an amazing instrumental at the end. "Feels Like Winter" and "Walls" slow things down on the record a bit. "How They Love Each Other" starts off with a funky sound but leads into a mellow chorus, sorta reminding me of something they did on their first record.
"Headed" sounds like something The Beatles would do, that is, until you get to the chorus which takes off into a modern rock sound with heavy guitars and strong vocals. "Comatose" is surprisingly tucked away near the end of the record. I don't know why they didn't put it as the first or second track. The melody and lyrics both have something in common - strength and passion! The song talks about how the world is in a way in a coma. because doesn't realize that they are spiritually comatose. It's a great message for a great song. So Much For Substitutes ends with the final track "Last Nights Daydream," or could there be a hidden track?
There is enough change in this album that you should at least give them another chance even if you didn't care too much for the first album. If you're a fan of Jars Of Clay, U2, or Kevin Max's vocals, then you will love this album. There is one thing that's for sure, downhere is getting up there in Christian music!- Review date: 7/11/03, written by J.P.
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